Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar - parallels to our dark side

Most of my friends who saw the movie ‘Avatar’ were just blown away by the graphics, picturization and the creativity. To put in the words of my ever optimistic friend, the movie was just ‘beyond brilliant’ :) I too liked the movie for all the above reasons. But all through the time that I was sitting in the theatre, I was reminded of a few other things.

To me, the story is a reminder of the dark side of humans. All through the history, till today, we’ve been doing the exact same thing as depicted in the movie. Human’s greed for resources, power and control have repeatedly resulted in and still resulting in wars and destruction. 

Avatar - a technological masterpiece

After a long time, we went to a movie today – ‘Avatar’, the James Cameron blockbuster in 3D format.
Spoiler Warning: I have explained some parts of the story here. So, do not proceed if you do not want to know the story

The day was quite hectic. We had 4 classes today and had quite a few cases today. I was quite hesitant to go to the movie. But based on the very strong recommendations of those who had already watched it, I decided to go.

It is a 3D movie. This is James Cameron first movie after he released Titanic ten years ago. He has invested enormous time and effort into making this movie. And I’m sure this will be a great landmark in his career. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't break the law... Don't sing 'Happy Birthday to you'

Did you know that you are commiting an 'offence' by singing the traditional 'Happy Birthday' song to your loved ones? I certainly didn't know this until our professor mentioned this while talking about coyrights and Intellectual property rights in class.  I dutifully surfed the net for details and here's what I found.
This tune of this song that is the most widely used and recognized across the world, comes from the song 'Good Morning to all' which was written and composed by American sisters Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. They were kindergarden teachers and composed this song for their students.

The song was copyrighted by the Summy company in 1935. The copywright was sold to Time Warner in 1990. Apparently, this copyright is valid till 2030. Currently Time Warner is charging USD 5000, every time this song is sung in public places, movies and performances. In 2008 alone, they have collected USD 2 million as royalties for using this song.

Source: The Absurdity of Copyright: "Happy Birthday to You"

So, the next time you are wishing your friend, you are voilating the law unless you pay royalty to Time Warner !!!

Ridiculous world of copyrights !!! - I'm thinking of getting a copyright for the word 'Hello'. So, everytime someone picks up the telephone and starts with this word, they have to pay royalty to me. I'm going to be a rich man !!!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Apple Vs Blackberry

Ad wars have been around for ages. Some of the classic ads are the result of such wars among major competitors. Today our professor showed two such ads in class. These are ads by Blackberry and Apple, attacking each other. I really liked these ads very much. So, here they are...

Blackberry's AD attacking Apple

Apple's ad retaliating Blackberry

Sunday, November 29, 2009

27th July, 2048

A really nice video of a speech by Hans Rosling given during the TED conference in India. The speech is about the re-emergence of Asia. He uses historical data and predicts the future for the continent. A really nice speech.

And what happens on 27th July, 2048? Watch the video to find out. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Birthday Stupidity

I have just returned from yet another birthday bash, in fact two bashes. As in almost all birthday celebrations, there were cakes (really delicious ones) which were dutifully smeared on the Birthday Boy's face, a number of dubious concoctions pored over his head etc. Amidst all this, there was also another form of celebration; one which seemed to provide the maximum fun to everybody around here; something that I always dread about - BIRTHDAY BUMPS.

Personally, I feel this is one of the most stupid and irresponsible way of celebrating a birthday. I've seen (and also received a few myself) countless 'Birthday Bumps' since the final years of school. In most cases, a couple of guys lift the birthday boy by his hands and legs. The rest of his ‘friends’ take turns to kick his buttocks. The number of kicks will depend on the popularity of the guy. And mind you, these kicks are not just kicks by namesake. They are real hard blows given with shoes. People even run down from a distance to gather momentum and deliver the blow with maximum force.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Digital 'Pseudo-Contact'

More than five years have passed since I finshed my Bachelor's in Engineering. My last official working day in college was May 10, 2004. How much things have changed since then? Thanks to Information Technology, we are able to stay in touch with many close friends. Social Networking sites like Orkut and Facebook help us maintain what I call 'Pseudo-contact' with our friends. We add them to our friend list; 'scrap' them; write on their 'walls'; follow their 'Tweets'; Read their 'Diggs'; We know their whereabouts, the main events in their lives etc. Yet we are not in direct touch with them.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Doomsday - Just around the corner

Every now and then, doomsday predictions surface and occupy the gossip columns. Millions of books on the predictions will be sold; documentaries or films will gross billions; salvation and a place in heaven will be promised by different ‘God men’ and in extreme cases we also see mass suicides or killings. The Dawn of this millennium was predicted to bring about the end of this world. That moment passed and the world survived. Now the next date of doom is 21st December, 2012. This is the date that our world will come to an end, as predicted by the Mayans, Nostradamus, the Oracle of Delphi and many others.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How many planets do we need?

“On an average, a normal Google Search emits about 7 grams of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere” – claimed my friend, 'S', in her presentation on ‘Green IT’. A prominent hand shot up in our class with a question. It was my friend 'G'.

“I have performed so many searches through Google and I’ve never seen any fumes coming out of my system. Can you explain the logic behind your statement?” - He queried with his ever-present ‘innocent’ expression, triggering a ripple of laughter across the class.

'S' and her team went on explain how the servers and components working on our search query use up huge amounts of electricity. This in turn necessitates greater power production resulting in larger quantities of carbon dioxide emissions.

“In that case, how can you cite increased Google searches and such operations as the cause of emissions? Shouldn’t you be looking at the manner in which the electricity is produced? If electricity is generated from renewable sources, then increased Google searches will not lead to global warming.” – shot back, 'G'

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ek gaon mein...

"Ek gaon mein ek kisaan rehtha thaa" – This is a famous line in a comedy scene of an 80's Tamil film. A Hindi Pundit tries to teach Hindi to our hero, who would consistently mispronounce the words. This line has come to denote anyone who does not know Hindi!!! I'm one of the three students here in Dubai (April 09 batch) who falls in that category.

I was quite apprehensive about joining SPJCM for the very simple reason that I do not know the one language that the “Globally diverse set of students here” interact in, out of college hours – “Global Raashtra Bhasha -Hindi”. I was very afraid that I would not be able to interact with anyone without knowing the language.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Blues

I've been struck by 'Sunday Blues' - yet again :(
It is that dull feeling that I get on most Sunday afternoons. It is not the sadness of the week ahead or the feeling of the passing weekend. It is just a feeling of boredom - not interested in doing anything that is physically tiring, not interested in studying, but not interested in staying at home either. I feel like going out and enjoying, but not so interested in traveling or doing any remotely tiring.

This happens almost every Sunday. Back home, I'll meet my friends in one of our houses, by around 5. We'll go to his terrace and keep talking something till 8 pm. Then we'll go out to eat somewhere - It could be the local 'Bhagya's' or 'Gangotri'. It could also be a short bike ride to 'Eden' or 'New Yorkers' :) Oh! Those good old days ... terrace cricket... carrom... besant nagar beach... one of the countless 'eat-outs'...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

"Universe Conspiracy" theory

“When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
- The alchemist, Paulo Coelho

My friend, ‘Mr.M’ was quoting this to everyone. He was actually quoting it from a Shahrukh khan movie. I didn’t think it was originally from the movie. So I googled and found the source – Paulo Coelho from his famous ‘Alchemist’ (Alas, I’ve not yet read this very famous book which everyone else seems to have).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Obama...Osama ???

I was preparing a small write-up on great orators and as an obvious choice, I started writing about Obama. And there it was - the notorious squiggly red line of MS-WORD. This time, WORD had dutifully underlined Mr.Obama's name. I dutifully right-clicked on the word; Here is it's suggested correction:

I know that this blooper has been noted and talked about so many times in the world wide web. But I could not resist posting my 'discovery' here :)

Dubai Nila

A couple of photos of "Dubai Nila" (Dubai moon) that I clicked from our college. It was quite a beautiful sight that day - the place was completely quiet, green lawns and desert sands around and the moon above ...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Coffee with camel's milk

"Ottaga Paal-la tea podra; Ottaga paal-la tea podra-nu ethana vaati solliruken. Dubai-lalaam appadi than poduvaanga"
- popular lines from a Vadivelu comedy that sprang to our minds when we saw the bottles of camel's milk in a supermarket here in Dubai. :) Since coming to Dubai, we've been having coffee / tea only with cow's milk :( So, we decided to give camel's milk a try. Still skeptical of the taste, we decided to go for a small bottle.

We came back to our rooms and told our plan to a few people around and it spread across the entire place with many people curios about this. But no one really wanted to try it out. One of the guys from Rajasthan warned us that Camel's milk taste very bad. After lot of hesitations, we decided to try out. My friend made coffee using camels' milk. Our first victim was a girl who was brave enough to come and try this. I was having a camera and closely watching her first expressions after sipping the coffee. She first looked at the colour and texture of the drink; smelled it slowly; looked at us; and slowly proceeded to take the first sip. Then her facial expression changed - not happy; not distaste; but disappointment. My friend had used a lot of coffee and very less camel's milk that we couldn't really taste the milk. So, we decided to directly drink the milk. I decided to take the plunge and took a first sip from the bottle. For a moment, I didn't feel anything different. It didn't even taste like milk. Then it slowly came out - slightly sour, more salty and little thin. Final verdict - not bad.

But contrary to what Vadivelu said, they don't use only camel's milk to make tea/coffee in Dubai :) In fact it was very costly - Double the price of the usual cow's milk !!!

And here's the vadivelu video :)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Dubai - first impressions

Dubai - the city where I'm going to spend the next 5 months. New York and Dubai are totally different in so many ways. While New York started its journey somewhere in the 1600s, Dubai as we know today is onyl a few decades growth. Both cities have one of the largest number of skyscrapers. But while New York has packed so many of them on the Manhattan island, Dubai has allowed them them to spread across.

Dubai seems to have had a unique growth model. Unlike many other world cities, which grew as the population moved in, Dubai was specifically planned and built, so that the population would one day move in.

Everything here is so big and built on a very grand scale. They've tried to create the world's largest, tallest, biggest ... in everything. While Old Dubai area called Deira has its share of narrow streets and old buildings, they've just built an entirely new downtown area called 'Burj Dubai' consisting of huge 16 lane roads and super tall buildings.

The Sheik Zayed road is the spine of Burj dubai. This is a 16 lane road stretching for miles inside Dubai. In fact it also connects to Abu dabhi and other emirates. On both sides of the road are one of the most dazzling array of super tall buildings. Virtually, every major company has set up shop here. There is a huge indoor skiing place that has ski sloped of the expert levels. The Burj Dubai building is currently the world's tallest building. It has not been completed, but has already reached 818 m. A building stretching almost a kilometer into the sky!!!

Then there are palm Jumeira islands. These are entirely artificial islands built by dredging the sea shore. The islands are shaped like a palm leaf. The leaf like structures are called fronds and each contain luxury villas that have sold for millions of Dirhams. Even the smallest apartments cost over a million. At the head of the structures is the ultra-luxury hotels - Atlantis, that supposedly has rooms under the sea. So, if you look out the windows of one of those, you'll see under the ocean.

Apart from the downtown district, Dubai has allocated chunks of desert for different industries as free zones. The usual laws of doing business in UAE does not hold good in these zones. There is an academic city(where my college is), international city (place of my stay), silicon oasis for electronic research, aviation city, sports city etc.

Construction has been going on in every single part. At any point, you can dozens of cranes over buildings. But it is so glaringly evident that things have gone terribly wrong in the city. The rulers have taken too huge a step and as a result, have been so badly hit by recession. Foreign investment has totally dried up. One can see huge buildings in the downtown district sporting the "for rent" signs. The roads are seeing less traffic as so many expatriates have returned. Most of the projects including the Dubai metro have been delayed or stopped.

Dubai is a millionaire's paradise. It grew so fast and hence when the fall came, is hurt so badly. Hopefully, things get better and the city starts growing again.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

First Days in Dubai

After a 2.5 year stint in the U.S., it is now time for a stint in Dubai. For good or bad, I've taken a decision to break out of my comfort zone, resign my job and pursue a MBA degree. I landed in Dubai on 01-Apr-09 and will be spending the next 4.5 months here.

We went around Dubai yesterday (03-Apr-09). Compared to Indian cities and the Us, Dubai is very different. The pattern of growth has been unlike any other city in the world. I'll write a whole different post on Dubai :)

Today, we had a full day of inauguration activities. We were asked to wear suits for the occasion. So, I had to wear a tie for the first time. It is one of the most uncomfortable things to wear :) but I felt I do look good in a suite. :):):)

The day was filled with speeches. Our president and dean gave long speeches on the value of MBA program and their expectations from us. There was a 2 hour session where each of us had to come up to the stage and introduce ourselves. I think I did good, though I forgot to say a couple of things that I had planned.

There were a few other sessions dedicated to scare people - sessions on grading system, warning against plagiarism of assignments (this was a long one), effects of absenteeism ... Suddenly I felt as though I'm in school again. College does make you feel young :)

There is one common thing that everyone is saying - the course will be tough, tough, tough. 4 hours of sleep is supposed to be a luxury. Sometimes I do ask myself - "What have I gotten myself into?". But then, hard work need not be painful. I just hope that I can turn this into a transformational experience and have an open mind.